The News (Pakistan), June 25, 2003
GAUHATI: Hundreds of Hindu monks pledged on Tuesday to fight ancient barbaric rituals of human sacrifices at temples in India where the grisly practice continues. “A very miniscule cult still believes that to achieve supernatural magical powers one needs to sacrifice a child at the altar,” Biswajit Giri, a 45-year-old Hindu mystic, told.
“The practice of human sacrifice … has not died down completely and is being carried out in many select temples secretly.” Giri is among some 50,000 monks who have assembled at the temple of the Hindu “goddess” Kamakhya in Gauhati, the capital of the northeastern state of Assam, for the annual Ambubachi Mela, a four-day ritual that began on Sunday.
The Kamakhya temple has long been considered the highest seat of Tantricism, a sort of black magic that has been an integral part of India’s folklore for centuries. Mystics who gather at the temple claim they can perform wonders — make a childless couple conceive, find a distressed loner a spouse or cast an evil spell on others.
“We have been working hard to create awareness to stop such grisly human sacrifices and other such heinous occult practices that do not fit into the modern way of life,” said Birati Baba, a 60-year-old seer who belongs to the secret Aghor cult, whose adherents meditate in graveyards at night.
“We should put an end to all barbaric practices as such incidents defame tantricism.”
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Taking a break?
Last week, a self-proclaimed mystic with saffron robes and vermillion beads marked on his forehead almost sacrificed his 18-month-old daughter at the Kamakhya temple.
Amritlal Mazumdar was slicing his daughter’s neck with a razor when her screams of pain alerted devotees who rescued the baby from being sacrificed.
“It seems the man was a lunatic and we managed to save the child from being sacrificed. The man was arrested by police later,” temple official Tara Nath Sharma said.
“We have deployed special volunteers at the temple to prevent any such bad things from happening,” he said.
Earlier this year, two children were sacrificed in the northeastern state of Tripura after a devotee had a dream that offering human livs to the “deity” would lead him to hidden treasures. Legend has it that human sacrifices — an integral part of tantricism — were widespread in Assam and other parts of India although the practice was officially abandoned some 250 years.
“There was a temple called Kasai Kathi (slaughter house) in eastern Assam’s Sadia area where it was said human sacrifices were performed,” said Pradeep Sharma, a researcher on tantricism. “But we have no evidence to prove this as the temple is now razed to the ground after heavy flooding triggered by a killer earthquake that rocked the state in 1950.”
Many of the monks who have assembled here from various parts of India and the neighboring Hindu kingdom of Nepal say human sacrifices continue in many places, although such rituals are steeped in secrecy to avoid public gaze and controversy.
“Human sacrifices are an essential ingredient to appease the goddess and then get her divine blessings,” said another sage. “But then nowadays you don’t get volunteers for the sacrifice and hence, as something symbolic, devotees perform the ritual using six-foot effigies made of flour.”